387.

[25 gennaio 1936?]

Carissimo Iulik,

ti faccio tanti auguri per l’andamento del tuo anno scolastico. Sarei molto contento se tu mi spiegassi in che consistono le difficoltà che trovi nello studiare. Mi pare che se tu stesso riconosci di avere delle difficoltà, queste non devono essere molto grandi e potrai superarle con la diligenza e la buona volontà. Il tempo assegnato allo studio è sufficiente per te? Forse sei un po’ disordinato, ti distrai, la memoria non funziona o tu non sai farla funzionare? Dormi bene? Quando giochi pensi a ciò che hai studiato o quando studi pensi al gioco? Oramai sei un ragazzo già formato e puoi rispondere alle mie domande con esattezza. Alla tua età io ero molto disordinato, andavo molte ore a scorazzare nei campi, però studiavo anche molto bene perché avevo una memoria molto forte e pronta e non mi sfuggiva nulla di ciò che era necessario per la scuola: per dirti tutta la verità debbo aggiungere che ero furbo e sapevo cavarmela anche nelle difficoltà pur avendo studiato poco. Ma il sistema di scuola che io ho seguito era molto arretrato; inoltre la quasi totalità dei miei condiscepoli non sapeva parlare l’italiano che molto male e stentatamente e ciò mi metteva in condizioni di superiorità, perché il maestro doveva tener conto della media degli allievi e il saper parlare correntemente l’italiano era già una circostanza che facilitava molte cose (la scuola era in un paese rurale e la grande maggioranza degli allievi era di origine contadina). Carissimo, sono certo che mi scriverai senza interruzione e mi terrai al corrente della tua vita. Ti abbraccio.

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387.

[January 25 1936?]

Dearest Iulik,

I would like to congratulate you on your success in school, I would be very happy is you could explain where your shortcomings lie. I believe that the fact that you understand your shortcomings means that they can’t be that great, and that you will easily overcome them with hard work and good will. Do you have enough time for your studies? Is it that you are a bit disorganised and inattentive, and that your memory is bad, or the fact that you don’t know how to apply yourself? Do you sleep well? Do you think about what you have studied while you are playing, or do you think about playing while you are studying? You are a big boy now and can answer my questions with precision. At your age, I was very disorganised, I spent endless hours playing in the fields, but I also studied a lot and diligently, because I had a quick, strong memory, and I was able to discern what was important to remember: to be truthful, I must add that I was clever and got by easily even when I studied very little. But the school I attended was very backward; and almost the majority of my classmates spoke very little Italian and spoke it badly. This put me in a situation of superiority, because the teacher had to take the overall accomplishments of the class into account, and the fact that I spoke Italian well made things easy for me (my school was in a small rural area and the majority of the students were the children of farmers), Dearest, I am certain you will write often and that you will keep me informed on your life. A warm embrace.

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Translation ©Matilda Colarossi

Antonio Gramsci, in his Letters from prison, mentions the word school 57 times: his talks about his own courses in prison, both as a teacher and a student, the importance of school in general, and, most of all, about his children’s schooling, which he follows closely even from afar. I have my own views about school and how my students should study and learn. I have chosen this particular passage because it speaks about managing time, which we always seem to be short of, a shortage that is, at times, and for some, self-induced. This is for them, with love: “Do you think about what you have studied while you are playing, or do you think about playing while you are studying?” – M.C.

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